Sydney Brownstone wrote a well-researched, in-depth story on Burien for The Stranger this week, entitled “Trump’s America Is 10 Miles South of Downtown Seattle (How Burien became a microcosm of national politics).”

In it, she addresses racism, along with our city’s recent political battles dealing with immigration, sanctuary city status, and Initiative No. 1 (repealing the city’s ‘sanctuary’ Ordinance 651), which will be on the Nov. 7 ballot.

Some excerpts:

The RV in Hugo Garcia’s neighborhood still bears faint traces of spray paint. Someone tried to scrub it clean, but the words left behind a rust-colored stain: “F*%&ing MEXICANS.”

Burien is a small city of 50,000 people sandwiched between Puget Sound and Sea-Tac International Airport. The median household income is $53,712, but the poverty rate is 18.2 percent. The area hosted white settlers in the mid-1800s, but only became formally incorporated in 1993, when communities living near the airport wanted a bigger say in its impacts on local residents. Ask any Burienite what comes to mind when they hear “old Burien,” and they’ll say “bedroom community,” meaning an opportunity for Boeing workers or Seattle commuters to have a home with plenty of space in the burbs.

But for decades before the city’s incorporation, Burien also drew immigrants from Cuautla, Mexico, who helped kick-start the entire region’s Mexican restaurant industry. The school district—41 percent Latino—is one of the most diverse in the state. And for decades, the city has drawn immigrants from El Salvador, Guatemala, and elsewhere who have launched pupuserias and specialty bakeries.

It’s definitely worth a read – check out Sydney’s full story here.

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40 replies on “The Stranger: ‘Trump’s America Is 10 Miles South of Downtown Seattle’”

  1. I agree with Kellie it is well researched and shows some disturbing trends our city needs
    to address – soon. I think we are better than the article indicates and we now need to step up and show it.

  2. As someone who was in the Highline School District since the mid 1950s I found this line a bit curious, “But for decades before the city’s incorporation, Burien also drew immigrants from Cuautla, Mexico, who helped kick-start the entire region’s Mexican restaurant industry.” Decades ago as I recall it, the so called immigrants that I remember were Italian and Japanese truck farmers, Norwegian fisherman and an occasional Brit or Russian. Back than, we had one African-American family attend the 4 different schools that I went to and one African-American Glee/music ed teacher. My first recall of Mexicans was in Wenatchee and later near Sedro Woolley where I saw the gatherings of small buildings used to house the field workers. I came to understand that ‘they’ followed the ripening of the various crops up and down the west coast. At that time there was no thought of asking these people to work any and all hours a crop manager demanded for very low wages. The housing was woefully inadequate for their needs. This was still true in the late 70’s.
    I say these things not to find fault or create ire or rancor. Far from it. It is simply to state what I remember of Burien and our area a few decades ago..

    1. The Azteca restaruant chain was founded in Burien in 1974. I believe that is what the author of the article was referring to. That qualifies as “decades before incorporation”. And can I just say, having lived in the Burien area since 1979, this town has come SO far in becoming a vibrant, welcoming community with better services, entertainment and open spaces over the last 40 years. Our diversity is our strength.

  3. Amen Kellie. The entire article is a must read for all of us Btown blogsters..
    And to boot, a paragraph dedicated to the activities of a regular blogger – who writes under another name.

  4. There were some interesting points in the article, and it’s rare enough that Burien’s existence is even acknowledged in the pages of a rag like the Stranger. I read it, and I haven’t picked up an issue for many years.

    I am however completely unsurprised by the tone of it, the oh-so-superior attitude toward our quaint “small town,” that would relegate the city to a simple divide between backwards good old boys and the progressive opposition. That’s never really been true of this city until recently, if it represents it at all. Not to mention our “imaginary” crime problem. That must be another one of those collective hallucinations. Couldn’t help but roll my eyes at their transparent effort to give this town a bad rap.

    1. Glad to see you now think we merely have a “crime problem” (like much of King County) rather than the crime wave of unprecedented proportion that you people have been imagining.

      1. Some people really don’t like the truth but let me repeat for you: the available data doesn’t show an increase in crime rate. In other words, you’ll have to find something else to scare people into electing your candidates. Now if you want to change your perspective and start enjoying life, I have an idea for you: switch the freaking channel if the TV puppets you are watching make you believe you are living in the middle of gang warfare.

  5. Waiting for an article in The Stranger about the socialist hell hole Seattle has become that big corporations are leaving.

  6. This election cycle has become contentious because of nothing more than a deep rooted need and desire to live in a safe and prosperous city. Political fluff, grandstanding and indecision by Tosta, Bezerkoitz and Armstrong are why they are soon to be gone. Having candidates run to better Burien has nothing to do with racism or the subjective treatment of anyone, it has to do with moving away from Liberal beliefs that have brought this mess.
    “NOMTOM” = “NO-Matta,Tosta,Oligen,Marx”

    1. says the very same person who has a long posting history of blaming immigrants for all kinds of crime. I am afraid your denial isn’t very credible

      1. Actually I single out homeless street urchins, packpack wearing bmx bike riding hooligans and drug addicts.

  7. There isn’t any mention of the Vietnamese community which came in while I was in high school and into college (the 80s), sponsored by many area churches. For a long time, we had more authentic vietnamese food available in the greater Seattle area than anywhere else I encountered regionally. I went to school with students from Filipino, Italian and Hispanic extended families. Our regional mall has a whole supermarket dedicated to Filipino seafood now. Don’t forget the Danish bakery ladies.
    Everything was on a smaller scale, it was neighborhood centered sort of world. Neighborhood pet store, meat and fish market, plumbing supply. Now everything is big box stores.
    I remember driving to White Center for spicy Vietnamese food and being taught about racism and slurs of any kind being wrong, and going to the Central District and learning about redlining by the banks. It was the Boeing era, so people’s dads would carpool to work from our neighborhood, or they worked at the airport or docks (and some of the moms as the 60s and 70s progressed).

    1. Let’s not forget, also conservatives love immigrants that come here legally, contribute to the society and bring the diversity for whom respect is mutual. We just don’t want the crime, drug dealing, heroin injection sites, but rather see a hard working community with respect for the law and a safe environment for all of our children to grow.

      Indeed the Vietnamese community has made great contributions to this and set an example for others to follow…

  8. The point here the writer comes up with an idea and builds a story around it. The more controversial the topic the better and they can be as selective as they want about the ‘facts’. Journalism is always a combination facts and fiction. Take some facts on one side, spice it up with a lot of fiction and you get story that reads well. Nowadays, if you want to get a complete picture you have to do your own research or people just go by what they experience.

    1. What’s described in the article is fairly consistent with the anti-immigrants/law and order content of many comments in this very blog (including yours) and here you are denying that nativism is playing a part. Fancy that..

      1. Being an immigrant myself it is hard to support nativism, but I do support the law of the land. Considering myself a visitor I believe you should be respectful to the law. Imagine that your visitors are being disorderly and disrespectful would you allow them in your house?

  9. For Burien residents to demonstrate, beyond any doubt, that racism, nativism, prejudice, privilege, and other forms of Trumpism are NOT what we’re about, these are the steps I think we should take over the next few years:

    1. Defeat the initiative that would repeal Burien’s “sanctuary city” status.
    2. Elect Olguin, Matta, Tosta, and Marx to the City Council.
    3. Two years from now, re-elect Bell, and send Krakowiak and Edgar packing.
    4. Make Burien’s City Council elections by district, instead of at-large.
    5. Ensure and enforce public access to Lake Burien, a public body of water.
    6. Annex White Center and the rest of the North Highline Annexation area.

    Rest assured that 4, 5, and maybe 6, will happen anyway, because the opposition is aging and will be dead soon enough.

    1. Electing that group of Socialists will bring Burien hordes of homeless looking for handouts, soup kitchens, drug injecting sites, increased crime and general malaise. You want the failed policies of Seattle, you’ll get them with that unqualified and political and union backed grouo of minions.

    2. Sounds like a plan, except the following will happen.

      Burien will be infested with drug dealers, homeless people and gangs. The people that work and pay the city taxes will be moving elsewhere, so Burien turns into a ghost town giving way for Seatac to expand and build two more runways eliminating Sunnydale and Central Burien. So, Burien will be mostly consist of North Highline and White Center and the average life expectancy of the remaining people will be around 65. Drug and alcohol additions, airport pollution and noise are the main reason for the below average life expectancy.

      1. Ye gods Seahurst, you make Question sound like a liberal – or like a snowflake the word currently in gogue.
        Or are you really being oh so slyly humorous? Tom

      2. Burien was a ghost town and is now on a serious up swing. After Southcenter opened and Boeing went through a major downswing the business’s in the city’s core of shops on 152nd/153rd closed. Unless you wanted to buy a car or some groceries you had to drive elsewhere. Now almost all of the shop fronts are filled as are the new residences in the downtown core. Homes for sale are sold quickly and basically what happened in West Seattle in the early aughts is happening in Burien and White Center. The Sanctuary City issue is a false flag fight raised by people who are afraid of the real changes happening around them. Personally I’m more concerned about what happens every time Seattle does a homeless sweep, which they will be doing again this week. Except to see a whole bunch more white males roaming are streets and parks in the next few days.

  10. Like all things in life, the reality and truth lies somewhere in the middle- with complexity, nuance, and difficulty. Unfortunately we have zealots and both sides and a propensity for whole groups to simplify issues and stands as well as demonize those who disagree with them while believing they themselves are righteous and right.

  11. Zealots on both sides. Correction. I think almost all our citizens just want to live here getting along with everybody else, being a true community and finding happiness. To just all agree to a social contract whereas we all treat each other fairly and politely and hopefully with friendship. Rather give in to the haters on the left and right. Case in point, the Burien Library. It wasn’t anti homeless. It was behavior in public. Homeless had nothing to do with it. Treat your fellow citizen with respect, and the library. That’s all. Don’t be rude, loud, drunk, drugged, or leave Doritos and Mountain Dew around. Socual Contract. Doesn’t make you a Trumpster to want things nice. Library better now. Are we cool? Just saying.

  12. I appreciate the Stranger article for drawing out Counselmember Wagner on this issue. She is very practiced on making it seem totally rational. I expect it to change more than a few votes in November.

  13. I would like to thank the Burien Proud/Burien First people for dropping off their information on my porch. Makes it easier to know who to vote for, not them. They are just another version of “Make Burien White Again”. When my beloved city makes Fox News you know something isn’t right.

  14. In my opinion, this article was WAY off-base. As a lifetime resident of this area, graduating from the local high school, I too, remember the area and population as Clean it up! described it. This article simply appears to be fanning the race-dividing flames of the previous Presidential administration. I also found it interesting how much was written about Matta…..where was his community’s support when Chuck Rangel (a hispanic and military veteran that I fully supported)) ran for office? Instead, we got Armstrong (big mistake on that one!); no mention of that history in the article. And I don’t blame Wagner for not following-up with Brownstone when she comes back with items from the New York Times (fake news, anyone?). This article may look like it’s well-researched, but appears to me to be planting anti-white seeds and scare tactics where there doesn’t need to be any. Conservative candidates want success for Burien, which means success for ALL taxpaying residents – and that is a color-blind result everyone should strive for….

  15. Thanks for publishing the article, lots of viewpoints. Over the years, whether new or old residents are here we have become a city with increasing diversity and are growing all the time. Ours is a unique community in several ways. Having an expectation of a City Council that can look forward and try and respect the needs of all residents is a part of that. We are not unique in having homelessness, drug or crime problems. We can try to work within that context and allow the voices of all and work with other City governments on issues.
    As elected officials, it’s incumbent that meetings have resolutions to issues,that meetings are run in an orderly way, and that the people serving our community are respectful of its citizens. Its important that the faces on the council reflect the diversity in our community, important to emphasize the law of the land consistently, including laws related to federal or state policy so we are not trying to reinvent the wheel with limited financial resources or police presence.

  16. Helping the Homeless

    Most of us know in our hearts that the homeless and the poor are not so very different from us.
    Homeless people in our communities are a fact of life, especially in big cities. Many of us don’t know how to interpret this situation or what we can do to help. We may vacillate between feeling guilty, as if we are personally responsible, and feeling angry, as if it is entirely on their own shoulders. The situation is, of course, far more complex than either scenario. Still, not knowing how to respond, we may fall into the habit of not responding at all. We may look over their heads not making eye contact, or down at the ground as we pass, falling into a habit of ignoring them. Each time we do this, we disconnect ourselves from a large portion of the human family, and it doesn’t feel right.

    Most of us know in our hearts that the homeless and the poor are not so very different from us. They may be the victims of poor planning or an unavoidable crisis. Some of them are mentally ill, some are addicted to drugs or alcohol, and some are choosing to be homeless for reasons we may never understand. We can imagine that, given their lives, we would likely have ended up in the same place. This does not mean that we are meant to rescue them, as they are on their own learning path, but it does remind us that we can treat them as equals, because that is what they are. Even if we aren’t able to offer food, shelter, or money, we can offer a blessing as we pass. We can look them in the eye and acknowledge our shared humanness, even if we don’t know just how to help them. This simple act of kindness and silent or spoken blessings can be so helpful to those living on the street.

    If you want to help with information, you can learn about the services in your area and share the locations of food banks, shelters, and other resources. Perhaps your family would like to have a plan ahead of time, talking with your children about how as a family you would like to handle these situations. Whatever you decide to do, you will feel much better when you make a conscious choice not to simply look away.

  17. Sydney’s article, while “spot on” if one has a particular viewpoint, plays fast and loose with some facts. One example regarding her statement about annexation, she wrote “…but voters rejected annexing White Center, a minority-majority city of 14,000.” That reads as though Burien voters voted AGAINST annexing WC because it’s population is mostly minority. However, it was White Center voters who voted AGAINST annexation to Burien. Sydney should know that. What else did she get wrong?
    Don’t believe everything you read just because it fits your bias.
    Words matter. Facts matter.

    1. Good catch on the wording of the White Center vote. Using that to sow seeds of doubt upon the entire article is really a stretch until you can prove otherwise.

      No one quoted has challenged the accuracy of their quotes. Words do indeed matter. And people will react to someone showing their true colors, for better or worse.

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